Last Friday the DoD issued the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’ (SAPRO) annual report on sexual assaults and harassment in the military. The report showed that sexual assaults reported by military personnel numbered 6,131 in 2014, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., isn’t satisfied saying the report fails to account for attacks on military spouses and civilian women at bases nationwide.“The more we learn, the worse the problem gets,” Gillibrand said in releasing an analysis by her office of limited data provided by the military on 107 cases at the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in California and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Gillibrand’s review of the cases showed “a high prevalence of sexual assault against civilian women near bases and civilian spouses of service members — two survivor groups not counted in DoD prevalence surveys.” Gillibrand charged that military spouses and civilian women who live or work near military bases “remain in the shadows” because neither group is counted in the SAPRO reports. Gillibrand said that her office asked for all files pertaining to the investigation and adjudication of sexual assault cases from 2009 through 2013 at the four bases in February 2014 – Hood, Pendleton, Norfolk and Wright-Patterson. Instead, DoD only provided the 107 case files from 2013 at the four bases.
“These 107 files are a snapshot of the thousands of estimated cases that occur annually — the latest projection for 2014 alone is 20,000 cases of sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact,” Gillibrand said in a statement.
“What we’ve found are alarming rates of assault among two survivor groups not routinely counted in DoD surveys, survivors declining to move forward with their cases and very low conviction rates,” she said.The Pentagon released a statement in response saying: “The department does not have standing authority to survey non-DoD civilian populations. However, federal surveys have found that the prevalence of sexual assault for non-DoD civilian women is statistically the same for military women and female spouses of military members.” In response to Gillibrand’s charges on underreporting, Laura Seal, a DoD spokesperson, said that the trends in the DoD report showed that in FY2014 there were “indications of increased confidence in our military justice system. Reporting is up: We estimate that one in 10 military victims reported in FY2012, and one in four military victims reported in FY2014.”
Dallas Cowboy legend and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker has a message for service members that he wants them to hear loud and clear. “There is no shame in asking for help. I did.”
On hand to sign autographs for fans, Walker opened the Army Suicide Prevention Month Health Fair in the Pentagon courtyard, Sept 12. He told his story of silent suffering with what was once known as multiple personality disorder (now dissociative identity disorder), a mental illness that affects a person’s behavior and memory. In his 2008 memoir, “Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder,” Walker unveils his struggles with maintaining close relationships, feelings of being “out of control,” and his inability to remember events in his life – including the day he received the Heisman trophy.
Walker sought professional help, and told his story to attendees in support of the Army’s effort to raise awareness and bring help to members of its ranks who may struggle with mental illness.
Walker is also a national spokesman for Freedom Care, and has brought his message to military servicemembers at more than 45 military installations.
Freedom Care is a specialized military treatment program with multiple inpatient and residential locations in the U.S. They specialize in combat PTSD, addiction, PTSD/addiction dual diagnosis, general psychiatric diagnoses, and woman’s issues, including military sexual trauma and eating disorders.
(Photo: Alfredo Barraza, US Army Reserve)?